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The Diary of Anne Frank

LBO reprises its critically applauded 2008 production as part of Irvine Barclay Theatre's 20th Anniversary Season. The production features again Ani Maldjian as Anne Frank. Holocaust survivor and author Laura Hillman creates a bridge from past to present with her personal memories woven throughout the performance.

“An emotional and techincal tour de force... Ani Maldjian is commanding and brilliant, fresh and strong from beginning to end... this production functioned on an authentically high level. Mitisek conducted with complete authority, and his nine-piece ensemble was exceptional."
[The LA Times] Read full review .

“Frid has taken this book and reimagined it in an unlikely way, with results that restore much of the power of the original work.”
[The Jewish Week]

About the Opera

Russian composer Grigori Frid is the son of a literary journalist father and a pianist mother; due to the civil war, the latter fled again and again, settling in various Russian cities. The family even head for Siberia in 1927 where the father had been banished. A large number of Grigori Frids relatives were killed under Stalin’s terrorist regime. Frid read Anne Frank’s diary in 1966. In pursuing his idea of turning the Diary into a one-person opera he selected essential passages from the Diary. He focused on Anne Frank’s emotional life: “I look into this heroic figure’s inner world. I therefore have no use for additional characters.”

Grigori Frid has characterized Anne Frank’s diary as a “philosophical and deeply ethical work, which raises problems of continuing relevance.” He cites in particular: “human freedom and dignity; the preeminence of mind over body and of consciousness over matter; the loneliness of youth which must defend its positions at a time when all ideals suffer wreckage, when humans despair of truth and justice; and finally also the essence of humanity, whose true nature first comes to light in behavior in concrete situations.”

This opera-monodrama in four scenes for soprano and chamber orchestra consists of 21 episodes.

Anne Frank’s documentary diary entries show the mental and psychological pressure encumbering the child, but also the fact that this pressure could not break her moral power. The girl’s unshakable will to live is communicated through the diary entries. The libretto, almost literally taken from the original, is integrated into a musical-lyrical narrative. Its emotional content takes equally into account the tragedy of the events and Anne Frank’s poetical expressive strength.

Anne FrankThe Story of Anne Frank

Anne Frank, a 13-year-old Jewish girl, hid in the attic of her father’s office building in Amsterdam from 1942 to 1944. The space was shared by her family and four others. While in hiding, she kept a diary, a gift from her parents on her 13th birthday, of everyday life, the shared joys, the squabbles, and her hopes and fears. After 25 months in “The Secret Annex” Anne and the others were betrayed and sent to concentration camps. Nine months later, Anne Frank died at Bergen-Belson of typhus. Her father, the only family member to survive, later published the pages of her diary. The first edition of Anne Frank’s diary appeared in the Netherlands in 1947. It has since been translated into 55 languages and has sold 20 million copies. At the turn of the century, Time magazine placed Anne Frank on its list of the “Hundred Personalities of the 20th Century.”

Anne Frank was born on June 12, 1929 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, the second daughter of Otto Heinrich Frank (May 12, 1889-August 19, 1980) and Edith Hollaender (January 16, 1900-January 6, 1945). Margot Frank (February 16, 1926-March 1945) was her sister.

“I don't think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.”

The family lived in an assimilated community of Jewish and non-Jewish citizens, and the children grew up with Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish friends. The Franks were Reform Jews, observing many of the traditions of Judaism. Edith Frank was the more devout parent, while Otto Frank, a decorated German officer from WWI, was interested in scholarly pursuits and had an extensive library; both parents encouraged the children to read.

On March 13, 1933, elections were held in Frankfurt for the municipal council, and Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party won. Anti-Semitic demonstrations occurred almost immediately, and the Franks began to fear what would happen to them if they remained in Germany. Later in the year, Edith and the children went to Aachen, where they stayed with Edith’s mother, Rosa Hollaender. Otto Frank remained in Frankfurt, but after receiving an offer to start a company in Amsterdam, he moved there to organise the business and to arrange accommodation for his family.

“It’s really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

Otto Frank began working at the Opekta Works, a company which sold the fruit extract pectin, and found an apartment on the Merwedeplein (Merwede Square) in an Amsterdam suburb. By February 1934, Edith and the children had arrived in Amsterdam, and the two girls were enrolled in the Montessori school. Margot demonstrated ability in arithmetic, and Anne showed aptitude for reading and writing. They were also recognized as highly distinct personalities, Margot being well mannered, reserved, and studious, while Anne was outspoken, energetic, and extroverted.

In 1938, Otto Frank started a second company in partnership with Hermann van Pels, a butcher, who had fled Osnabrueck in Germany with his family. In 1939 Edith’s mother came to live with the Franks, and remained with them until her death in January 1942. In May 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands, and the occupation government began to persecute Jews by the implementation of restrictive and discriminatory laws, and the mandatory registration and segregation of Jews soon followed. Margot and Anne were excelling in their studies and had a large number of friends, but with the introduction of a decree that Jewish children could only attend Jewish schools, they were enrolled at the Jewish Lyceum.

The period chronicled in the diary

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

For her thirteenth birthday on June 12, 1942, Anne received a small notebook which she had pointed out to her father in a shop window a few days earlier. Although it was an autograph book, bound with red-and-white checkered cloth and with a small lock on the front, Anne had already decided she would use it as a diary. She began writing in it almost immediately, describing herself, her family and friends, her school life, boys she flirted with and the places she liked to visit in her neighborhood. While these early entries demonstrate that in many ways her life was that of a typical schoolgirl, she also refers to changes that had taken place since the German occupation. Some references are seemingly casual and not emphasized. However in some entries Anne provides more detail of the oppression that was steadily increasing. For instance, she wrote about the yellow star which all Jews were forced to wear in public and she listed some of the restrictions and persecutions that had encroached into the lives of Amsterdam’s Jewish population.

In July 1942, Margot Frank received a call-up notice from the Zentralstelle fuer juedische Auswanderung (Central Office for Jewish Emigration) ordering her to report for relocation to a work camp. Anne was then told of a plan that Otto had formulated with his most trusted employees, and which Edith and Margot had been aware of for a short time. The family was to go into hiding in rooms above and behind the company’s premises on the Prinsengracht, a street along one of Amsterdam’s canals.

Life in the Achterhuis

On July 5, 1942, the family moved into the hiding place. Their apartment was left in a state of disarray to create the impression that they had left suddenly, and Otto Frank left a note that hinted they were going to Switzerland. As Jews were not allowed to use public transport they walked several kilometres from their home, with each of them wearing several layers of clothing as they did not dare to be seen carrying luggage. The Achterhuis (a Dutch word denoting the rear part of a house, translated as the Secret Annexe in English editions of the diary) was a three-story space at the rear of the building that was entered from a landing above the Opekta offices. Two small rooms, with an adjoining bathroom and toilet, were on the first level, and above that a large open room, with a small room beside it. From this smaller room, a ladder led to the attic. The door to the Achterhuis was later covered by a bookcase to ensure it remained undiscovered. The main building, situated a block from the Westerkerk, was nondescript, old and typical of buildings in the western quarters of Amsterdam.

“Who would ever think that so much went on in the soul of a young girl?”

Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman, Miep Gies, and Bep Voskuijl were the only employees who knew of the people in hiding, and with Gies' husband Jan Gies and Voskuijl’s father Johannes Hendrik Voskuijl, were their helpers for the duration of their confinement. They provided the only contact between the outside world and the occupants of the house, and they kept them informed of war news and political developments. They catered for all of their needs, ensured their safety and supplied them with food, a task that grew more difficult with the passage of time. Anne wrote of their dedication and of their efforts to boost morale within the household during the most dangerous of times. All were aware that if caught they could face the death penalty for sheltering Jews.

In late July, the Franks were joined by the van Pels family: Hermann, Auguste, and 16-year-old Peter, and then in November by Fritz Pfeffer, a dentist and friend of the family. Anne wrote of her pleasure at having new people to talk to, but tensions quickly developed within the group forced to live in such confined conditions. After sharing her room with Pfeffer, she found him to be insufferable, and she clashed with Auguste van Pels, whom she regarded as foolish. Her relationship with her mother was strained, and Anne wrote that they had little in common as her mother was too remote. Although she sometimes argued with Margot, she wrote of an unexpected bond that had developed between them, but she remained closest emotionally to her father. Some time later, after first dismissing the shy and awkward Peter van Pels, she recognised a kinship with him and the two entered a romance.

Anne spent most of her time reading and studying, while continuing to write and edit her diary. In addition to providing a narrative of events as they occurred, she also wrote about her feelings, beliefs and ambitions, subjects she felt she could not discuss with anyone. As her confidence in her writing grew, and as she began to mature, she wrote of more abstract subjects such as her belief in God, and how she defined human nature. She continued writing regularly until her final entry of August 1, 1944.

Arrest and concentration camps

“Whoever is happy will make others happy too.”

On the morning of August 4, 1944, the Achterhuis was stormed by the Gruene Polizei following a tip-off from an informer who was never identified [1]. Led by Schutzstaffel Oberscharfuehrer Karl Silberbauer of the Sicherheitsdienst, the group included at least three members of the Security Police. The occupants were loaded into trucks and taken for interrogation. Victor Kugler and Johannes Kleiman were taken away and subsequently jailed, but Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl were allowed to go. They later returned to the Achterhuis, where they found Anne’s papers strewn on the floor. They collected them, as well as several family photograph albums, and Gies resolved to return them to Anne after the war.

The members of the household were taken to the camp at Westerbork. Ostensibly a transit camp, by this time more than 100,000 Jews had passed through it, and on September 2, the group was deported on what would be the last transport from Westerbork to the Auschwitz concentration camp. They arrived after a three days' journey, and were separated by gender, with the men and women never to see each other again. Of the 1019 passengers, 549 people – including all children under the age of fifteen years – were selected and sent directly to the gas chambers where they were killed. Anne had turned fifteen three months earlier and was spared, and although everyone from the Achterhuis survived this selection, Anne believed her father had been killed.

With the other females not selected for immediate death, Anne was forced to strip naked to be disinfected, had her head shaved and was tattooed with an identifying number on her arm. By day the women were used as slave labour, and by night were crowded into freezing barracks. Disease was rampant and before long Anne’s skin became badly infected by scabies.

On October 28, selections began for women to be relocated to Bergen-Belsen. More than 8,000 women, including Anne and Margot Frank and Auguste van Pels, were transported, but Edith Frank was left behind. Tents were erected to accommodate the influx of prisoners, Anne and Margot among them, and as the population rose, the death toll due to disease increased rapidly. Anne was briefly reunited with two friends, Hanneli Goslar (named Lies in the diary) and Nanette Blitz, who both survived the war. They said that Anne, naked but for a piece of blanket, explained she was infested with lice and had thrown her clothes away. They described her as bald, emaciated and shivering but although ill herself, she told them that she was more concerned about Margot, whose illness seemed to be more severe. Goslar and Blitz did not see Margot who remained in her bunk, too weak to walk. Anne said they were alone as both of their parents were dead.

“How true Daddy’s words were when he said: all children must look after their own upbringing. Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”

In March 1945, a typhus epidemic spread through the camp killing an estimated 17,000 prisoners. Witnesses later testified that Margot fell from her bunk in her weakened state and was killed by the shock, and that a few days later Anne also died. They estimated that this occurred a few weeks before the camp was liberated by British troops on April 15, 1945, and although the exact dates were not recorded, it is generally accepted to have been between the end of February and the middle of March.

After the war, it was estimated that of the 110,000 Jews deported from the Netherlands during the Nazi occupation, only 5,000 survived.

Grigori FridGrigori Frid

Grigory Samuilovich Frid also Grigori Fried (born September 22, 1915, Petrograd, now St. Petersburg) - is a Russian composer of music in many different genres, including chamber opera. Frid studied at the Moscow Conservatory with Heinrich Litinsky and Vissarion Shebalin. He was a soldier in the Second World War. The style of his early music may be explained as conventional, written in the tradition of so-called socialist realism. At the age of 55 he suddenly changed his style radically, turning to the twelve-tone and other more contemporary techniques of music composition.

He is a prolific composer. The most notable works are his two chamber operas: The Diary of Anne Frank, an opera-monodrama in four scenes for soprano and chamber orchestra, performed in 1969 at the House of Composers in Moscow; and The Letters of Van Gogh, an opera-monodrama for baritone and chamber ensemble, performed in (1975) at the same venue. Both the operas were written to his own libretti.

He wrote three symphonies (1939, 1955, 1964), a series of instrumental concertos including a Concerto for viola, piano and string orchestra (1981), music for theatre and cinema including stage music for Phèdre by Jean Racine (1985), vocal and chamber music including a cycle Poetry (1973) for voice and chamber ensemble to poems by Federico García Lorca, a Piano Quintet (1981), a Fantasia for cello and piano (1982), Fedra (Phèdre, 1985) - a piano quintet with solo viola, and Five Songs to poems by Luís de Camões (1985).

He is known as a music propagandist and organizer of a series of lectures-concerts for young people at the House of Composers in Moscow that were popular in 1970s. He is also an artist, having a series of exhibitions of his paintings; and he has written a few memoirs, two of which were published in Moscow in 1987 and 1991.

Libretto

Translation by Alla Gomon and James Briscoe

1.INTRODUCTION

Music

2. BIRTHDAY

On Friday I awoke at six o’clock. And no wonder - my birthday, my birthday.
But never mind, that I must not get up so early, I had to keep quite still on my birthday until six forty five.
I couldn't bear any longer. So I went right into the dining room, then started to unwrap my presents. And you, my diary, I found you the first of all, that was my best gift on my birthday.
Father and mother got me such fine presents, bunches of presents.
So long now, I’m so happy that you are here with me!

3. SCHOOL

Now it’s Sunday, it’s the twenty-first of June in the year nineteen forty-two.
Our whole class is frightened and trembling. Soon now, soon now the teachers’ meeting will be held.
Old Mister Kepler the old Math master has for a long time been annoyed with me, he has said that I chatter too much. But I told him that talking is a trait of women, a trait of women. Mama talks as much as I, as much as I or more and what can one do about it? You can’t deny your very nature. Old Mister Kepler just chuckled at my reasons, then he made such fun: Quack-Quack, Mamselle Duckling!
My class howled with laughter.

4. CONVERSATION WITH FATHER

My father often stays at home now, often he stays at home now, my father may not go to work now. How sad not to live a full life and to be unwanted.
Today, as he and I went walking, Papa told me all the plans about the Hiding Place.”
He said it would not be a good life in such a place, where the world would be cut away far from us.
We must escape the dreaded Fascist hand. That is why we must hide away, we must not wait and let them capture us.
Oh, how I do wish this day were so far away, so far away!

5. NOTICE FROM THE GESTAPO

Today the eighth of July.
So many things have happened, it seems that the whole world turned over!
My Father opened up a notice from the Gestapo, and that means: Concentration Camp...
Mama went to see the Van Daans, to ask if now we should go to our hiding. To hide up in the attic of my father’s warehouse. The van Daans and we are seven, we will be seven there, we will be seven there....

6. HIDING PLACE

Saturday the eleventh of July. Our Hiding Place.
Papa, Mama and Margot just can’t get used to the sound of the tower, of the striking.
But I loved it from the start, so very pretty, especially at night.
Our secret Annex, is such an ideal hiding place. It’s no matter that it is damp and leans to one side, in all of Holland you won’t find a better hiding place from the storm.
It is the silence, when I get so very frightened, especially, especially at night. I think we shall never see the daylight. Never live to be free and get out of here, they will find us and shoot us.

7. BY THE WINDOW

I sit by the window and see the world go whirling by people scramble and disappear.
It is so strange to see how they run. How they hurry into darkness, hurry into nothingness, my window opens just enough to let me wonder. This quarter near us is poor working folk, the children so desperate.
Through the window there are many things to see: there are tulips, daffodils, raindrops...and all hiding under black umbrellas.

8. I WAS TOLD

Friday now, it’s October sixteen.
Now in the news they call for diaries to be published after the war and novels, too. I wonder if it’s true, yes, I’ll write a novel of my own My hiding place.
How silly such a title how very bad, they’ll think of some detective story, some Sherlock Holmes! When the war is done, when we are free, they won’t believe me if I write my story and if I describe how we were forced to live.
Now we are all so frightened. We’re told a worker in the warehouse beneath the attic suspects we are hiding here. Who knows, if we can trust such a person or not...
They won’t believe me, if I write my story and if I describe how we were forced to live.

9. DESPAIR

The weight upon my heart presses always and pulls to a deep chasm.
A songbird am I with her song quiet, a songbird with no voice, how she struggles, struggles, struggles never free to sing, never free to leave her cage, never.
Oh freedom, oh freedom I cry deep inside. I want to, to breathe, to laugh out!
But I know it, I will never be free. I’m off to bed now, it’s all I can do to shorten the hours of silence and fear of silence.

10. RECOLLECTION

When I think about my life, my life before Germans came to Holland, all was so ideal, all is so distant. Another Anne was living inside me.
Now peace is gone, peace is no more, no more. So careless such a lighthearted child so happy that Anne never will return.

11. DREAM

Last night deep a sleep, I had such a dream, such a nightmare. I saw her there before me. My friend, my girlfriend Liess.
In silence and in tears exhausted, dressed in rags. Hope was gone, even in the darkness she appeared, emaciated, a skeleton.
Her eyes, her eyes so sad. They stared at me, they reproached me, it was as if she spoke to me:
Anna, oh Anna, stay with me, don’t abandon me! Take me away out of this torment.
I cannot help her now, I cannot help...I pray to God to save her, to give her peace, save her; Oh dear God, support her, and bring her back to us!

12. INTERLUDE

Music

13. DUET OF THE VAN DAANS

Today I’ll describe a very common, very common squabble of Mrs. van Daan and her husband.
Dearie that is what she calls him, I do not know why the English stopped the bombing?
Because the weather now is so bad, don’t you see that?
Oh, Dearie, no the sky was lovely yesterday!
Ah, please don’t say it, please don’t repeat the same old thing!
Why can’t a woman share her opinions just like men?
Stop it!
Why say ‘Stop it’?
Oh hell, just shut up! Idiot!
But now I know the Allies won’t come, they won’t come at all!
Stop it!
Why say ‘Stop it’? Why say ‘Stop it’?
Shut up your stupid blabber, your stupid pig snout! Someday I’ll make you sorry, sorry you were ever born! You God forsaken fool! I can’t stand this nonsense! You should rub your nose into your filth, rub it in rubbish.
The curtain falls on this drama.
I couldn’t keep from laughing, laughing. I was laughing so hard!
Peter and Mama could not hold it back.

14. ROBBERS

Today the fourth of August nineteen hundred forty three.
A robber in the warehouse! Below us, just below us. The robber, who can it be, what can he want?
But what if he tells the Gestapo that he heard us, just to save himself?

15. RECITATIVE

One day Peter and I found a quiet place there in the attic we sat down together, on a box.
We were sitting very close, his hand found mine in the silence.
How lovely the trees coming out this year, sunlight calls us to come out a while, sky so blue, so blue, such crystal blue.
I long to go out and touch the world.

16. I THINK OF PETER...

Late every night I lie awake and wonder, I wonder if he dreams of me. I think of his earnest glance, tender glance, when our eyes meet, and of our fear to speak the truth: Of love, future years, happiness, and then I think about not our sadness but of all the wonders, of lovely nature, of life in the world, in spite of evil and fear, this world is still beautiful.
And as for man he too is good at heart...
In life there’s no pleasure in life, there’s no beauty like greeting the morning and knowing that nature is begging for you to come sing, and feeling the sun and watching the moon, and loving each other, and caring for someone, and silently waiting.

17. AT THE RUSSIAN FRONT

We hear in the news the Russians are winning! At the Polish border they will come all the Allies.
They take many captives. And now all the Nazi boys know about defeat.
Tralala la la la la hooray for freedom! All we hidden ones are in a happy mood. Any moment now, we’ll hear something wonderful that the Allies are at hand.
In Moscow shouting, in London there’s laughter and in Washington they cheer like thunder, I do not know why they make such noise like thunder cries and shouts laughter. You could say they can’t express any other way after all the joy of all the world.

18. ROUND-UP

Knocking beneath us here. It’s quiet again. Again knocking.
Terror. They’re there walking Gestapo. In the warehouse beneath our hiding place...
We didn't dare to breathe, all you could hear was the frantic beating of seven hearts.
Steps, steps, they’re stopping at our stair, closer, closer, closer! They’re at the cupboard that hides our stair, oh, God!
Again they shake it, again..
Something’s falling down.
The steps, now they move away. We are burning with fever. And never since that very night such a danger, danger, as on this night.
The Gestapo stood right at the cupboard, but nothing did they find, nothing did they find.

19. SOLITUDE

Actually in youth all is far more lonely than old age. The young have passions ideals, the old are far more practical and they know what they must do in life. But as for youth when life is new.
It is hard to be so sure in times like these when we see all ideals collapse before us, when all about is falsehood, justice is forsaken, happiness gone!
Ideals and dreams shining expectations cannot be still in our hearts, and if hope comes to us, the horrible reality will destroy hope utterly...

20. PASSACAGLIA

It’s a wonder that up to now I still have hope and keep my spirit high. I see how now the world is becoming nothing but a desert.
Now the thunder of war is here, it threatens to find and destroy us it seems to me, that we exist in a patch of sky, blue sky, between the black, hateful storm clouds.
But it is coming nearer and nearer, it will absorb us in our desperate struggle, struggle for freedom How we shove and strangle each other.
We see how people down in the street struggle too, we see how hatred overcomes us all and now the dark surrounds us, blackens us and separates like a, a curtain.
The darkness ever pressing on us ever like a wall moving to us to crash us. And now all I can do is pray:
Adonoi eluhenu, make our way open our path to freedom!

21. FINALE

Now the sun shines skies are clear and blue. One can’t even take in the beauty. Each morning I go to the roof to breathe deep the fresh air.
The roof has become my favorite place, I see before me canals like ribbons. Chestnuts bare of leaves and the sparkling diamonds of dew. I see seagulls soaring in the blue sky their wings seem like silver sails on the horizon.
I gaze out from my open roof top perch, from where I can see all of Amsterdam, a sea of roofs that stretch out all the way to the horizon.
So long as I have this sunlight, so long as I have the earth and all nature that exists for me, for me to love, I can never be sad!
Whenever you are put to trial, whenever you are lonely, unhappy go out and be unto yourself
where it’s peaceful, where you can be unhindered. Alone with nature alone with God,
at last now I know nature makes our life whole, suf’ring she can send away, pain is gone at nature’s hand.
And when I look up to heaven, then I can think that every cruelty someday must have an end, and once again peace and love shall reign on earth.
But ‘til that time we must keep our faith, our hopes and dreams.
We must hold to courage, tho’ the weak may fall, the strong endure to carry on. I am prepared to sacrifice my life for the future.
And if the Lord wills that I should survive, I shall give my self to serve the world.
For now I realize that courage and loving kindness must be dearer now than ever! Power, glory, that is as nothing. But a joyous heart will falter for a moment only, ever more hope will awaken and hope will remain your heart’s strength all your life.
So long as you can look up without fear to the heavens...